07 September 2016
The Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC) welcomes parliament’s adoption of resolutions recommending the appointment of Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane as the new public protector and the appointment of members of the newly formed information regulator, with Advocate Pansy Tlakula as its chairperson. The office of the public protector and the information regulator are critical public institutions for fostering accountability and transparency in the usage and management of public resources and in promoting corporate accountability.
Mukelani Dimba, ODAC’s executive director said, “Adv. Mkhwebane was selected through a process that was more open than any we have seen before. Yes there were concerns with the shortlisting at the beginning of the process, but Dr. Makhosi Khoza, the chairperson of the ad hoc committee on the Public Protector appointment, and her colleagues in the committee, deserve praise for the precedent-setting transparency of the selection process”.
We hope that Adv. Mkhwebane will build on the great work done by Adv. Thuli Madonsela to keep the office of the public protector an iron shield against abuse of public resources and maladministration.
Another appointment recommendation today to an important institution supporting democracy is the recommendation on persons to be appointed as members of the information regulator.The information regulator has the potential to change the information access landscape in South Africa. With jurisdiction and enforcement powers over both the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), it will serve as an important mechanism for protection of privacy rights as well as access to information rights. Close to ten years ago the late Professor Kader Asmal concluded in his assessment of state institutions supporting democracy that the benefits of PAIA fell beyond the reach of the majority of South Africans because of the absence of a free and easily accessible mechanism for redress on access to information disputes. The information regulator is that mechanism that Professor Asmal called for. We support the recommendation that the information regulator be chaired by Adv. Tlakula.
Tlakula has impressive legal qualifications and has vast experience in establishing critical constitutional and statutory bodies that promote human rights and democracy, having helped establish the Human Rights Commission and the National Credit Regulator. She is also the leading African authority and champion on the continent on a major subject of the work of the information regulator; access to information law. Before she became the African Commission on Human & Peoples’ Rights special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information only five African countries had access to information laws, during her tenure that number rose to twenty-one, through her efforts. “The information regulator is going to be the public protector on information and privacy rights. In South Africa today, there is nobody better qualified and more experienced than Adv. Tlakula to lead this institution. The information regulator will be in good hands under Adv. Tlakula”, Dimba said.
Mukelani Dimba, Executive Director: ODAC (082 699 6586)
Alison Tilley, Head of Advocacy: ODAC (071 671 8654)